Friday 14 December 2018
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africanews - 23 days ago

Failed dialogue prolongs strike by university lecturers in Congo

Deserted corridors, empty classrooms, and no tutors. This has been the state of Marien Ngouabi University in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo for several weeks now. At the management institute, our correspondent, Laudes Martial found the entrance gate closed with chains and padlocks. “The strike that was called by teachers at the beginning of September continues and negotiations are not progressing to lift it,” he observed. Lecturer’s demands The teachers’ unions are determined to continue the strike and they are not relenting on their list of their demands. “We demand in the first place the payment of six months’ unpaid wages. We also demand the payment of overtime, supervision of theses and dissertations for the years 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018. We also ask for the payment of subsidy by the government. Finally, we demand a clear commitment from the government to pay us regularly as we pay other Congolese officials,” asserted the President of the University Teachers’ Union Gabriel Bissanga. On the question of dialogue The dialogue with the government is at a standstill. So much so that the unions believe that the State has forgotten about them. But that might not be the case. Instead, the Minister of Higher Education Bruno Jean-Richard Itoua is tired of the standstill which he says has lasted for a decade. “Other African countries have thought about and resolved the question of the financial autonomy of their universities so that they do not depend entirely on the State and the treasury. In Senegal, the process has been carried out in the same way as in Ghana, and it is bearing fruit. How did they get there?” And we have had recurring strikes for the same reasons for the past ten years. That is the real debate. So there is no forgotten strike,” Mr. Itoua stated. Students forced to wait for solution Faced with this situation, students have no choice but to be patient. For Richard Lauvin Gakoula Bileko, a second year student of geography, “it hurts … a lot because there are students who have dedicated their lives to studying … at the Marien Ngouabi University in Brazzaville.” Another student, Rallias Tchimbouka Ngoma said, “ the students are more of victims than the lecturers.” He acknowledged though that the teachers have the right to strike because they are civil servants and deserve their salaries. “We students who deserve to be taught, we are no longer taught because the state cannot pay our teachers,” he added. This unsuccessful dialogue between the government and trade unions risks prolonging the strike movement albeit to the great displeasure of Congolese students.

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